greentapestry : The 52 Week Salad Challenge ~ January 2012

Friday, 27 January 2012

The 52 Week Salad Challenge ~ January 2012

I could not resist when Veg Plotting laid down the gauntlet of growing and or/foraging "some salad leaves to to eat every week this year"Yet although it's still only January I can already hear that school report phrase "Could do better" ringing in my ears! I am somewhat slow at rising to the challenge. I think that some of this is down to the general January lethargy that strikes me most years so I can only presume that as the year wakes up so will I.

I'm rather conservative in some ways when it comes to food. I don't do hot and spicy or bitter. I also have an innate suspicion of anything with serrated leaves or sharp stalks. For some reason such greenery often gets stuck in my craw as I eat so violent coughing and sometimes choking ensues. I have nightmares of being carted off to hospital in need of surgery a la Queen Mother after her encounters with fishbones. I don't know if this peculiarity is just a family trait as my mother also suffers from it or whether other people have a similar affliction. So alas delights such as dandelions and hairy bittercress are strictly off the menu for me.

So what have I been up to? In the greenhouse my main activity some winter salad leaves have been sown. The greenhouse is unheated. The leaves shown were sown in a small unheated propagator on the 8th January. The lid has remained on throughout so far but I shake off any surplus moisture and open the ventilation shaft (not sure if this is the correct phrase) each day. I have not watered the compost but spray it with my trusty water mister when I think necessary. I do this regularly with small seedlings as I they are delicate and do not appreciate a deluge from a watering can. There is also more risk of things getting too wet at this time of year and using a mister makes it so much easier to control the volume of water seedlings get. I hope to be munching from this sowing in February and will be sowing again this weekend.

My brief flirtation with sprouting seeds back in the 1970s is about to be re-ignited. Buying the equipment locally was a challenge in itself but I now have a sprouting germinator jar and a small selection of sprouting seeds so am set to go. I will hopefully report on some harvestings next month.

What I have been enjoying this month is some finely chopped snippets of Babington's Leek (allium ampeloprasum var babingtonii) on salads and also as a chive substitute with scrambled eggs. You can see a photo above of some plants waiting for me to transport them to the allotment to join those already in residence. I took the photo in the greenhouse for convenience - the plants though have been outside all winter. This plant is native to Britain and can be found growing mainly near the coast. The leaves have a garlicy taste and although all parts can be eaten I have only munched young leaves up to now. The foliage disappears over the summer months. I grew my plants from seed obtained from Chiltern Seeds. I have a few spare seeds or to be more accurate bulbils to spare if anybody is interested.

My other activity has been the oh so most important and pleasurable business of perusing the seed catalogues for various salad ingredients. Some sowing is on the schedule this weekend Finally last night I came home from my local garden club meeting clutching two bags of seed potatoes - Belle de Fontenay and Ratte, both of which are delicious salad potatoes. I realise that the challenge is about mainly about leaves but you do need something to bulk them up. Mmmmmmmmm - my mouth is already watering at the thought.
Do visit the monthly round up of The 52 Week Salad Challenge over at Veg Plotting if you have not already signed up consider joining in the fun!


  1. Good start to the 52 Week Salad Challenge! I have been gowing carrots for my salads, and I hope when Spring gets here I can grow lettuce and radishes, too!
    Have a great week-end!
    Lea's Menagerie
    Mississippi, USA

  2. In case you would find it reassuring, perhaps I should let you know there are no bones in lettuce.

    Isn't 'bulbil' a lovely word?

    I've learnt something from this post - I'd thought Babington's Leek is poisonous. Now I'm wondering what I've muddled it with.

  3. Those leeks look really interesting, unfortuantely my chives have been attacked by black aphids and are looking very much worse for wear. I wonder if the leeks are available here.

  4. I want to grow more salad leaves than I usually do this year, mainly because I'm dieting and it's so expensive to buy something which is so easy to grow. I've never tried sprouting seeds, it's something which has never really grabbed me, but I look forward to seeing how you do with them.

  5. Ive not had much success in the past with winter salad in the greenhouse as the plants have been quite leggy but am trying a seed mat thi weekend. Those leeks look very interesting - are they perennial? If you have any spare I would be interested

  6. Your seedlings are so cute! I'm kind of a procrastinator and just sowed mine last week, but I do have some similar sprouts. I'm just using the light of the windowsill. P.S. Hmmm, in school I always went all out. It's not until much later in life that I could "do better!" :)

  7. I frequently find that slender salad leaves - rocket in particular - get stuck in my throat and cause me to choke. Horrid, but I love the taste so much I still grow as much of it as I can...

    In theory I would love to try growing some of those leeks, but in practice I'm not sure how much I will be able to nurture plants of any sort this year, so I will file the thought away for the future.

  8. I would love to start off some salad leaves but my window sill is going to be fairly busy over the couple of months, so I don't have the space. But it is such a good idea. Salad bags from the supermarket are so expensive and never as interesting as the varieties you can grow at home. I really enjoyed growing my micro-greens over the winter. Wellywoman.

  9. Hi Anna - great tip re the mister - I've gone and rescued mine from the shed for exactly the same reason :)

    And yes please to some Babbington Leek bulbils if you still have some.

  10. I've never heard of Babington leeks but having looked them up they sound as if they grow in much the same way as Egyptian or walking onions.

    I need more space . The greenhouse is full of tender plants in pots and P doesn't much like propagators invading the house...


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- Anna.